• Dumitru Gorzo - The Fiasco of the End of the World
Dumitru Gorzo - The Fiasco of the End of the World


Dumitru Gorzo. Gorzo. The enigmatic, abbreviated name draws our attention to a singular, unconventional talent. Striding before us in the mould of a Brazilian footballer or a cult icon, Gorzo demands recognition, his staccato title burning into memory.

Now established on the international scene, with a base in New York, Gorzo emerged as one of the leading lights of young contemporary Romanian art, part of a generation that included the likes of Adrian Ghenie and Ciprian Muresan. Always independent and different, though, Gorzo’s stylistic approach has never been easy to pin down. One of the first artists to be honoured with a dedicated exhibition at Bucharest’s National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) in 2006, his work spans genres, creating a world all of its own.

Back in Romania to inaugurate the opening of a new gallery and exhibition space, the work presented by Gorzo here represents a further addition to his repertoire. Stripping back some of the weight of earlier, monumental paintings, Gorzo has captured the raw vitality of his approach, producing sculptures, drawings and paintings that isolate characters and totems from his singular world view. The pieces speak of Gorzo’s ongoing engagement with rural Romania, its people and landscape; the use of wood and clay lending the work a natural, earthy quality. The minimalist drawings and hand-carved sculptures allow us to get unusually close to the artist and his technique, distilling the essence of a narrative he has been exploring over the last decade or more.

As always, there are ambiguities and alternating trains of thought running through Gorzo’s work. There is the sense of the universal and the abstract, of worlds blurring and a dream-like space. There is the indication that this work has been born of the Romanian countryside, but also it is clear that only this one man could have rendered it so.

In a clever passage that captures something of the spirt we find in Gorzo, the Italian scholar Claudio Magris, the great surveyor of lands touching the Danube, says of Romania, “Rumanian civilization is one of wood, of the goodness and strength of wood, of the firm, religious mildness of everyday utensils, of the tables and benches in the house which preserve the memory of the great woods in which the original population sought safe refuge, in ancient times, from the invader of the moment.”

For Gorzo, it is important that we do not overplay the rural connection, but undoubtedly there is a depth to his work and its Romanian roots that can carry us far. Beyond these origins, though, other narratives emerge, both within a single work, and in the collective dialogue. Never far away is the reminder that the ‘invader’ is at our door, whether it comes from within - our own emotional, bodily torments straining to emerge - or an outsider looming large. In The Fiasco of the End of the World the concern, the unnerving shift, is that things are becoming less certain still, the figures before us announcing themselves as characters from a circus of the absurd.

text by Richard Unwin